The Pakistan film industry is in resurgence mode. With the local population longing for their share of entertainment, Bollywood is popular on both sides of the border. The success of Bollywood movies and popularity of its songs and actors, which can be heard at every nook and corner of Karachi and Lahore, has supported the revival of the exhibition and distribution businesses.
Times are changing and people of Pakistan are being exposed to the best entertainment infrastructure in the form of plush single screens and up market multiplexes. Cities like Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Sukkur, Hyderabad, Peshawar and Bahawalpur may soon get a taste of this upmarket infrastructure.
“We are concentrating on pure family entertainment. The response has been tremendous in whichever city we have gone. At present, we have multiplexes in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Lahore and we propose to roll out 100 screens in the next four years. We have introduced 3D digital cinema, gold and platinum class that is drawing huge crowds. We have triggered off the first big investment in cinemas in over 20 years in Pakistan,” Cinepax Ltd COO, Hashim Raza said. The company has 11 cinema screens at present.
Mr. Raza said he would soon be travelling to India to explore the possibility of joint ventures with Indian film and exhibition companies. Indian movies are a big hit in Pakistan and we plan to further explore this. Other companies too have joined the race including Mandviwalla Entertainment which owns a total of eight screens in Pakistan.
“Being a conservative society, family entertainment in Pakistan was limited to food only but now with cinema screens available, the whole family can enjoy movies on the big screen. The industry is on the rise and customers now have different alternatives when it comes to family entertainment,” Mr. Raza remarked to a group of visiting Indian journalists.
With the local film industry virtually non-existent, Bollywood movies have brought people to the theatres once again. This is likely to inspire the local producers to revive their own production houses and the latest instance is the Pakistani film, ‘Zinda Bhaag’ also starring Naseeruddin Shah on people being sent abroad illegally.
“We plan to expand in to TV and digital content in future. There is growing market for legitimate movie content. We ensure strict anti-piracy measures in coordination with Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory Authority and Federal Investigation Agency Copyright Protection Wing. We have managed to convince Universal Pictures to release the films on the day and date they are released in US,” said Mr. Raza.
And the statistics speak for themselves. In 2009-10, a total of 44 movies including 17 Hollywood and 24 Indian movies were released. However, this figure changed dramatically in the first half of 2013 when a total of 80 movies were released of which 40 were Hollywood and 34 were Indian films.